Flat Surfaces, 1946, Arthur G. Dove (1880-1946), oil on canvas, 27 x 36 inches, copyright the Estate of Arthur G. Dove, courtesy 
Terry Dintenfass Inc., Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 55.21

Art and alumni

UD alumni help bring 'American Moderns' to Delaware Art Museum

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4:24 p.m., Oct. 11, 2013--The curatorial track doctorate in the University of Delaware’s Department of Art History may only be a few years old but the department has long been training art historians who go on to work as curators in some of the nation’s best-known institutions and collections.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, the exhibition “American Moderns, 1910-1960: From O’Keefe to Rockwell” opens at the Delaware Art Museum, demonstrating the wide reach of UD in the art world as well as the strength of its alumni network.

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Drawn from the renowned collection of American art at the Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition travels to Wilmington from New York as the result of three years of conservation, planning and coordination by alumni from both the art history and art conservation programs at UD.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, Teresa Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator at the Brooklyn Museum, will join curator Heather Campbell Coyle of the Delaware Art Museum and paintings conservator Mark Bockrath to discuss their work during the “American Moderns Saturday Symposium: What Does Modern Mean?,” a collaboration between the University’s Friends of Art History and the museum. 

The three UD alumni will speak about their research into this tumultuous half-century and how it has created new curatorial perspectives and conservation strategies. The public can register for the symposium at this website

The purpose of the exhibition is to examine and re-think the myriad ways in which American artists engaged with modernity from 1910 through 1960.  Fifty-seven works were selected, including those by Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Avery, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Rockwell Kent, Joseph Stella, Elie Nadelman and Norman Rockwell. 

According to Campbell Coyle, the pieces from the Brooklyn Museum are “a perfect complement to our collection, which is very strong in turn-of-the-century American painting and sculpture. It fits well with our long commitment to collecting and exhibiting modern American art.” 

Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue including historical and contextual analyses, provenance research, and technical information, assembled by lead curator Karen Sherry and Margaret Stenz. 

Planning for a traveling exhibition is a long-term investment for any institution; often schedules are set 3-5 years in advance. To bring the exhibition to the Delaware Art Museum, planning and fund-raising was required over one year, and Donald Puglisi, who was the board president of the museum during this period and is UD’s MBNA America Professor Emeritus of Business, helped to steer these efforts. 

Given the time commitment involved, as Campbell Coyle said, “It didn’t hurt that Karen Sherry, one of my colleagues at the University of Delaware (and now chief curator and curator of American art at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine), was the organizing curator and primary author of the exhibition catalogue. I knew it would be a strong show visually and intellectually.” 

The involvement of Carbone, a UD master of arts graduate who holds a doctorate from the City University of New York, further bolstered her confidence in the exhibition.

The power of the UD network continues, as the exhibition will travel to the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Neb., where Jack Becker, the director, and Toby Jurovics, the chief curator, are both UD-trained art historians.

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